Driver the Definition of a Franchise Player

9 Sep

As I write this in the third quarter of the Packers-Saints game, Donald Driver has 9,656 receiving yards, tied for the franchise record with James Lofton, the wide receiver who played with the Packers for slightly more than half his career (1978-1986).  Driver, who tied Lofton’s yardage total on his 702nd career catch (another franchise record), came up smiling, the monkey still on his back for one more reception.

There’s little doubt Driver will break Lofton’s record; it might even happen by the end of the game.  If Driver manages to play until his stated goal of 40, he’ll have that and a lot of other records all to himself.  Just glance through the pass receiving section of the Packers media guide and you’ll see that Driver has had the team’s most seasons with 50 or more receptions (9), the most seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards (7), and the most consecutive games with a reception.

Like most things in Driver’s life, playing until 40 won’t be an easy road.  There are a lot of mouths to feed in Green Bay, and Driver will have to fend off younger talent like James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb.  It is a testament to Driver’s conditioning that he is even able to still play with such a young crowd.

Eventually, the franchise will face some tough decisions with Driver, who is signed through the 2012 season at a relatively modest $4.8 million per year.  If the team’s recent roster cuts have shown anything, it is how much Ted Thompson values young talent.  Some bloggers even suggested Driver’s head might be on the chopping block this year, as practice squad receivers Tori Gurley and Chastin West had excellent camps.

If and when the Packers decide to part ways with Driver, here’s hoping it will be in a manner that takes into consideration all that Driver has contributed to the organization and the Green Bay community during his tenure.

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